The Volta Region as unofficially partitioned by its indigenes into Northern, Central and Southern parts have over the years engaged predominantly in small scale farming.
The land up north and central parts are considered much fertile, but in a rather sharp contrast, the porous sandy soil found in the southern parts are usually nourished with animal composts coupled with irrigation in order to attain fertility to grow crops.
Food crops produced up north and central of the region notably are tubers of yam, maize, pepper, cassava, tomato, cocoa etc.
The southern part produces shallots, tomato, carrots etc. Fishing is one of the main occupations of the people but has in recent times dwindled due to depleted fish stock in the sea.
After a successive annual celebration of national farmers day for the 33rd time, Volta happened to gain it for four (4) times.
In 1986, 1991, 2004 and 2013, farmers from the Central parts of the region (Akatsi, Juapong, Ho and Sogakope) respectively succeeded as the Best National farmers.
The Southern and Northern parts are yet to attain these great achievements of national awards in spite of their tremendous effort in feeding the nation Ghana in their very own way. Most farmers have at least been acknowledged at the various Regional and District levels over the years.
Challenges affecting the people of the Southern part remain the battle for dry lands as urbanization increases and the tidal waves and erosion from the sea makes situations even worse.
They have been able to invest their energy in irrigating mechanically and manually, their crops almost every day.
For the 33rd time of awarding hard work and acknowledging efforts of farmers at the national level, farmers in the Volta Region have had their fair share as the statistics on the ministry of Agriculture website indicates. The region is at par with Western and Greater Accra regions with 4 winners of the prestigious annual awards. Northern and Upper-West regions are the least national awardees as 2 time winners each, while the Ashanti leads for the 5th time last year, 2017.
Engaging some farmers in the region, they decried among other things, land acquisition for large scale farming as their major issues as custodians of land mounts pressure on them after some lease period of time. Some chiefs are unwilling to release their lands on favorable terms of conditions for commercial farming.
The second topmost agenda of the United Nations with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to; “End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture — source;. – United Nations’ website.
To achieve these goals by 2030, farmers in the Volta Region must avail themselves to improve yields and manage post-harvest losses. This can be done in collaboration with government on its flagship programs of “Planting for Food and Jobs and 1District; 1Factory (1D1F), which needs total commitment and proper arrangements in allocating resources.
Volta Region been one of Ghana’s food hub has 20,570km2 (7,940sq ml) as its area coverage with a population of about 2,118,252 according to the 2010 population census with majority of the demographics been youth.
Over the years, the people of Agotime Ziope have petitioned government to come to their aid to salvage their postharvest losses of tomatoes. Their produce (tomato) have to be sold cheaply to recoup part of their yearly farming investments. They have asked successive governments to establish a tomato factory in the locality but this has not materialized.
“Our desire and attempt to produce tomato in large quantity will only be in futility when there is no factory to process it. Tomato is perishable and there must be a processing plant to turn it into paste. This we the youth currently unemployed and are not in school are willing to do for a living but until government come to build a factory, we would prefer riding motor bikes to make a living” a farmer said in an interview.
The people of Mafi Kumase in the Central Tongu District have complained bitterly about their produce been priced cheaply since there is no measuring scale for their gari. The only gari factory available on visit by Fred Duhoe was visibly covered in weeds and has become a place of convenience for locals around. “From the planting stage, through harvesting and processing of cassava is quite tedious yet people come to take advantage of our gari and price it the way they like. We are certainly not making any profit out of cassava and gari but we have no option since that’s what puts food on our table” a local reveals in an interview with Fred Duhoe.
The people of Dambai and its environs due to bad roads have lost much of their yam produce before it reaches the cities.
The people of Dzodze produce palm fruits in large quantity while the people of Keta and its environs feed the nation with some amount of fish and salt alongside the vegetables. The people of Biakoye, Hohoe and Jasikan in their efforts feed the nation with maize, rice, mango etc.
The people of Kadjebi produce yam and groundnut in large quantity when a favorable average weather temperature of about 250C remains fairly stable throughout the season.
With the current technological trends in Agriculture, there is always a bumper harvest when there are fairly good weather conditions but most unfortunately, the food produced doesn’t last longer due to over-reliance of farmers on pesticides, weedicides and fertilizers.
In almost the past decade, Agriculture Science was a subject studied in the basic schools of Ghana while some schools have farms for practical.
Interacting with some idling youth of school going age in Ho, they revealed, “Farming is not attractive since they have no knowledge about the subject from school”.
The bottom line is, if these peasant farmers are given the requisite education on new trends of farming with its accompanied technological preservation methods, Ghana hope to be secured in terms of food security and prices of goods will remain relatively low.
The Adidome Farm Institute at Adidome in the Central Tongu District and the Ohawu Agric College at Abor in the Akatsi North District are among the specifically designated colleges for agriculture studies in the Volta Region which could help upgrade the knowledge of local farmers.
By: Fred Mensah Duhoe